Our Christmas Portrait Show

featuring a work from our represented and guest artists

December 18 - January 8, 2011 2010

To celebrate the Season and thank our artists and clients for their valued support over the year, Anthea Polson Art is hosting a special Christmas party to coincide with the opening of the annual group exhibition which features a work by each of the gallery's represented artists. This year's theme is portraiture. The subject was entirely open to individual interpretation and so the assembled portraits present an extraordinary array of very diverse styles, media and sizes. 

The exhibition gives a fascinating glimpse into an artist's imaginative process. The great majority of portraits do not attempt to capture a true to life representation of the sitter but seek instead to express some shifting, indefinite essence. The self-portraits in particular, reveal that which lies beneath the surface of appearances. Focusing on the drawing aspect of her practice, Carolyn Watson employs an anthropomorphism of the feral animal to convey vulnerability and themes of strength and submission. The artist and the fox meld together in a mutual transference of constrained circumstance and response. Peta Houghton's very personal symbolism with its fragile, fugitive imagery translates existential doubts and insecurities. Similarly, Nic Plowman sees his art-making in terms of crucifixion, self-dissection and therapy. Christine Polowyj's introspective musings are given pictorial voice in a blaze of brilliant colour. It is as if the head in her self-portrait might slide out of the picture-frame altogether if not held in check by the affirmative, rainbow-hued expanse above. Nick Ashby's portrait similarly explores issues of identity and an individual's sense of being and place. His work, like the others', aims to move the viewer out of the present and into the realms of the subconscious.

An air of the unresolved also hovers in Beth Kennedy's portrait. Set within an intimate domestic interior, snippets of narrative surface like dream fragments or repressed memory. Vigorously calligraphic, Geoffrey Proud's charming portrait of a young girl demonstrates his utter mastery of the pastel medium. Cate Maddy's watery, enigmatic work is the epitome of elegant simplicity in form and pictorial arrangement. The nude figure’s arms are crossed, whether in modesty or willful stubbornness we can’t determine for the expression on her face is inscrutable. So too, the large soulful eyes in Susan Simonini's finely-wrought portrait. We are mesmerized by them. Do they question, admonish or entreat? Perhaps they hold a composite truth as the work’s title implies. Grandly atmospheric and suffused in a rich warm palette, there is something of the visionary in Cynthia Breusch's painting of a boy balancing on the brink of new horizons.

Other artists are more interested in expressing their perceptions of external reality and have chosen to portray iconic celebrities or personally significant, cultural identities. Curiously, there is nothing at all tentative in such depictions. These portraits have a dynamism that derives from the directness of their painterly execution. Simon Collins' intention is to allow the medium carry him, saying that he likes the idea of 'letting the viewer in' on this process through the unfinished look of the piece. Emma Gale has a similar philosophy. Believing that simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve, her painting has a deliberately raw feel. Mistakes and all are left to show the workings. Jack Pemble uses fingers and anything else at hand, his subject is smeared onto the canvas in a completely sensuous commingling of paint, image and feeling. 

Such tactile physicality is further extended in several other artists' image-making. Christian Morrow's immensely powerful portrait is an assemblage of reclaimed materials that have been subjected to a range of industrial processes and multiple applications and abrasions of paint. Daniel Brinsmead also uses a variety of media as he examines his place in relation to contemporary and past cultures. Dripping with thick white enamel, his text-based abstractions are gridded, cross-word like, with strips of shiny aluminium. Meanwhile, Erin Flannery in a masterful mix of simplicity and sophistication, turns her daily observations of the fashion world into works of art on found objects. The wooden surfaces of skateboard decks and platters are painted, scraped and incised to create grounds for her signature stencilled and aerosol-sprayed imagery. Then there are portraits that defy all worldly concerns in their weightless lyricism. Melissa Egan's whimsical inventiveness is allowed full reign her homage to the late Dame Joan. Typical of Egan's wacky narrative style, the painting delights us in the humorous incongruity of the scenario. 


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